Teaching Students about 9/11 in Classroom
9/11 is here again and the first week of school is barely over. The important decision for most of the teachers now is how to commemorate the 9/11 twin tower terrorist attack anniversary in their classrooms. Even the older high school students of today would be considerably young in 2001 during this unforgettable incident which significantly altered the international climate in more than one ways. The teachers carry a lot of onus to make students grasp the subtleties of this honorable day. The teachers are expected to make students understand the gravity of 9/11 in the classroom space along with the implications that it had. Many teachers find it difficult at times to strongly put forward the atrocity of this deadliest day New York has ever seen while some in fact loose emotional control. While teaching about 9/11 in a classroom space it is important to strike the right balance between the historical facts as well as personal and patriotic emotional accounts.
It is crucial for the teacher to start by teaching about the events of the 9/11 day as they unfolded. Generally a presentation giving detailed timeline record can come in handy for this purpose. Highlight the live action events for students by collecting original newspaper clippings of the 9/11 event and putting them in a collage or inviting someone who witnessed the event live. This will offer students a way to most factually grasp the live accounts of the event without getting lost emotionally. The reactions by most students in your class is also going to vary based on their age and personal experience. So would be the concerns of different age group students. The older lot of students would be especially interested in discussing the political and economic implications of 9/11.
Involve students by running classroom discussions about what the students themselves remember about the mishap of 9/11/2001. Teachers have also been employing creative writing exercises such as asking students to document their feelings associated with 9/11. Teachers can also utilize this moment to sensitize students about the role of armed forces, local police, fire fighters who play an active role in preventing and/or managing the acts of terrorism and maintain peace. Group students together to create collages on the theme of world peace, and honoring the events of 9/11/2001. Critical thinking activities such as having a discussion on the impact of an event like 9/11 and important world peace issues is also a brilliant idea. Share with them your own memories and thoughts as well.
The discussion might invoke myriad strong emotions in students. The accounts might in fact upset a lot of kids. A teacher must however steer the discussion in a balanced manner. Teachers must control their emotions, display religious tolerance. The teachers need to accept the views and opinions of all students. Any gore and disturbing imagery should best be avoided, especially for young students. Yet the teacher must offer honest and age appropriate explanations to the students. The teacher must also keep a keen eye for any child who might be experiencing difficulty physically or emotionally in dealing with the information and discussion. The child must be distracted with some other classroom activity such as reading or drawing, offered solitary moment and comforted by the teacher or school counselor. For some students the day of 9/11 may in fact have personal significance. Try to follow up the reaction with their parents, find out if the child has experienced a loss of any relative in 9/11 mishap or has some otherwise bad memories associated. For some vulnerable students have their parents informed about the disturbance experience by their child and have them offer support. Also it is important to understand that many students might have some pre-existing knowledge about 9/11 from sources such as their parents, family, friends, media and other informal sources. Lend ears to them carefully during discussion and especially look for any myths or misinformation that they might be harboring in relation to 9/11 or world terrorism in general. Be prompt to dispel them. Also 9/11 presents great opportunity for teachers to teach students regarding the safety plans to manage disasters and emergency situations in future.
Throughout the discussion it is important for teachers to continuously reassure the students about the safety of present times and present positive attributes such as hope, current peace efforts and coming together of people in the post 9/11 world in a fight against terrorism. The teachers must also refrain from stereotyping any religion or nation or overly describing personal accounts or sufferings.
Finally, the teacher must also acknowledge their own feelings and offer support to each other. While it is completely human for them to express their own feelings and emotions, teachers must strike a balance between information and emotions. Also, offer one minute silence time in remembrance of all those who lost their lives in 9/11 attacks.
Hope we have given you all some nice ideas for commemorating 9/11 memorial in your classrooms this year. We would love to hear your experiences. Also don’t forget to share with us your 9/11 classroom activities.
God Bless Humanity !